Wednesday November 3, 2010
BC Environment News
First Nations Celebrate Victory
Feds nix Fish Lake copper mine plan
Submitted by Tsilhqot'in National Govt.
Photo courtesy of CBC
he Tsilhqot'in National Government and its' community members are rejoicing in today's decision by Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice against issuing permits for the proposed Prosperity mine in central BC. This ruling will serve as a catalyst for for reform and a new relationship between governments, the mining industry and First Nations.
"The federal government has honoured its Constitutional duty to protect First Nations rights and its responsibility to protect the environment. The government should be commended for recognizing that this project did not represent the best way to create jobs and economic growth," said TNG Tribal Chief Joe Alphonse.
"The Tsilhqot'in Nation understands the need for jobs in the region and believes it can work with municipalities and others to build on the environmentally friendly economic activities that are sustained by Teztan Biny (Fish Lake) and its environs and already contribute so much to the area."
Xeni Gwet'in Chief Baptiste said: "Perhaps there are other projects that can be considered. As we have always stated, we are not against resource development of any kind, just extraction at any price that leads to the destruction of our ecosystem for our future generations," "However, we hope today's decision will demonstrate the need to find a way forward for industry and governments to work with First Nations from the outset to identify and develop projects that are environmentally and culturally acceptable and sustainable."
The fact that a company would spend so many years and so much money to develop and promote this Prosperity project, despite the clear and legitimate First Nations along with DFO's objections, demonstrates the need to reform BC's free-entry, on-line staking system," said Chief Baptiste. "This proposal could not have been more guaranteed to alienate First Nations."
Chief Percy Guichon said "it in no one's interest to continue with a system that encourages the development of proposals that should never be pursued, instead of focussing on projects that have reasonable prospects. Companies waste exploration and development dollars, government waste tax dollars and First Nations are forced to use up scarce financial resources to defend against bad or unfair proposals."
"One of the main reasons there has been no major new metals mine open in BC since the mid 1990s can in large part be attributed to a system that allows anyone with a computer and a few dollars to access anywhere it wants on First Nations unceded lands and develop whatever proposal they want - no matter how environmentally unviable, and not matter how unacceptable to our people," said Chief Joe Alphonse.
Chief Joe Alphonse added: "Another reason is a provincial environmental review system that does not allow our people to fully participate and does not address the issues that we as first nations need to address. However, there are examples of companies working with other First Nations to address these concerns and to develop projects and agreements that can stand the test of time."
"Those agreements are positive examples that can be built upon. The federal government decision today will inspire efforts to reform the system in BC to the benefit of all."
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